After all these years of frustration and blindness, I finally decided to take a step to eliminate all this frustration.  I decided to do LASIK eye surgery and correct my less than perfect vision. I have toyed wtih the idea for several years and even gone to see a few clinics to get more information.  

I had decided against it previously due to a few reasons:  

1) Not wanting to wear glasses 24 hours for a month prior to surgery

2) I didn’t feel comfortable with the McDonald’s drive-through approach of some of the clinics I looked at

This time I decided if I were going to mess with my eyes then I wanted to do it at the Mercedes of eye clinics and get the best possible care.  This is how I happened upon the London Vision Clinic and here is a quick rundown of my experience with them.

1) Called and booked an appointment – I was very anxious to get this done quickly, but it turned out that they were booked up pretty much for a month solid.  Also, in order to have your surgery you need to do 2 exams.  The inital exam which is pretty standard stuff and then the more extensive exam where you take time to speak to the actual surgeon.  The extensive exam requires a deposit of £500 which goes towards the cost of treatment.  This is a pretty big ask, especially since you haven’t even talked to anyone at the clinic, but it does show seriousness on both sides of the fence.  Also note, that you don’t have to book the extensive exam at the same time as the inital exam if you don’t feel comfortable.  I was just itching to get everything done, so I paid the deposit and even booked my surgery date all at once.

2) Had comprehensive exam and consultation – Since I booked in all of my appointments at once my first exam took a really long time.  Literally it was about 3 1/2 hours where I went through a battery of tests, including having my pupils dilated and some bizarre thing where they shove a piece of paper in your eye to test your tear ducts.  The part of the process that I found most reassuring was meeting the actual surgeon who would be treating me.  Mr. Glenn Carp, a nice South African, who spent a good 45 minutes testing my eyes, walking me through any concerns and talking to me about the risks.  I was worried about the surgery due to my hands and he seemed well informed of the potential hazards of treating me and assured me that he would be on call for me 24/7 following the treatment.  It was very helpful and felt like I was really getting the care that I was paying for.  I also met with the patient care advisor who discusses finances and other points.  All in all, I left feeling like I trusted the surgeon and clinic.  Most of all, I was psyched to get it over with and be able to see without lenses or glasses for the first time in 21 years!

3) Wait a month – I had the diving trip planned to Thailand, so it wasn’t possible to get the surgery done beforehand as you have to wait 1 month following surgery to dive… 

4)Get financing – This part of the process was a pain in my ass.  The clinic offers the option of 0% financing for the surgery.  Despite having the cash to pay for the surgery, I thought this was a pretty good option.  Why not spread it out over the course of a year instead of dropping all of it at once?  I applied for the financing and despite having an Experian credit rating of 999 out of 999, I was declined.  Grrrr.  This ended up with me deciding that justice must prevail.  I spent a few painful emails back and forth to the company issuing the credit that involved me disclosing way too much personal information through bank statements and paystubs before they finally reversed the decision and issued the credit.  It was quite frustrating.  It obviously has a lot to do with the credit crunch, but still it was not a fun experience and I was left feeling a bit humiliated and deflated. 

5) Get the surgery – Whoop whoop.  My surgery was scheduled for March 4th, but I was so antsy to get it over with that I ended up moving it forward a week.  This meant that I had to spend 7 annoying days wearing my glasses as contact lenses reshape your eyes and you need to let them go back to their normal shape by giving them a rest. I rolled into the clinic at 9 am ready to go.  I had gone through all the paperwork that I was given – a good 30 page read about scary complications like “sands of the sahara”.  It was quite informative and a bit scary, but I suppose you should be informed of what you are undertaking. I have to admit that I wasn’t scared or nervous in the least.  In hindsight, maybe this wasn’t the right way to approach something so serious. After speaking to the surgeon and reviewing my tests again, we were pretty much ready to go.  I was led down the hallway by a nice woman who then gave me an Indian head massage and shoulder massage.  Nice touch!  Then I was suited up with some booties and a head cover and escorted into the treatment room – sans my glasses.  Buh bye glasses…


Suited and booted The surgeon greeted me and I laid down on a chair and covered with a blanket.  Then the fun began…


Warm blanket and blue lights First some anaesthetic drops were put in my eyes.   Then my eye was clamped open ala Clockwork Orange.  At this point, I started to feel a little bit nervous.  I was told to keep watching the lights in the middle of the machine that resembles some disco Star Trek dots.  And then the machine was lowered onto my eye and I felt a slight sucking on my eyeball.  This is when the corneal flap was cut.  Pretty simple stuff.  They did one eye, then the next.  All the while, the doctor was offering me words of encouragement and somewhere in the background I could hear someone counting seconds. After this point, I was under the impression that I was done.  Hey, that was easy!  Smooth sailing. NOT.  The hard part was about to begin…


Clockwork Orange After they cut the flaps, I was instructed to keep my eyes closed.  Then they swung me around to the actual laser.  There was some calibration that took place and then, once again, my eye was clamped open. Now begins the bizarre, freaky and slightly traumatising portion of the show…


Keep your eyes closed! First off, I felt that weird stinging in my nose like I was staring into some bright light.  Everything in the background is dark and I was told to keep looking at some green dot and do my best not to follow it if it disappears.  Then I could see some metal tools that resembled dental tools going straight for my eye.  This is when I started to feel totally nervous.   I guess at this point he was moving the flap off my eye so that the laser could reshape underneath.   Next step is the actual laser.  This was the most disturbing part.  I was really freaking out trying to keep staring at the light while doing my best not to move my head or do anything.   And then I smelled what was like burnt hair.  It nearly made me gag it was so strong.  My eye burning?!?  Repeat on the other side.  I breathed out of my mouth on that eye, so as to avoid that gross smell. Then it was all done.  I sat up, half expecting to see everything just like in the video.  But all I saw was a very cloudy operating room.  Not exactly the WOW factor that I was thinking of…


Shaken, but not stirred…with Mr. Carp (can’t quite see yet) I was moved down the hallway into recovery room that was dark and instructed to keep my eyes closed.  I was also told to try to keep my eyes closed for the next 3 hours – at least – to allow the corneal flap to begin healing.  Then I took a taxi home and stumbled up the stairs and into a darkened room. At this point, the anaesthetic was wearing off my eyes and I was pretty miserable.  I could barely open my eyelids and when I did my eyes were tearing and burning.  It was awful.  The most comfortable thing was to sit there with my eyes closed, attempting to put the eye drops in every 15 minutes and wondering what the hell I had done to myself – and if this was all normal. I ended up sitting with my eyes closed for a good 5 hours.  When I finally did open my eyes, things were pretty hazy and slightly sore, but much better than in the first hours. The next morning, I woke up and my eyes were still pretty sore, but I could actually see!  I even drove to my followup appointment.  On my first test, my vision was at 20/16!  Whoop! Now it has been 3 days on.  My eyes are still a bit fuzzy and get tired easily.  I have been faithfully using the eye drops and sleeping with the plastic shields as I am terrified of rubbing my flaps.

The conclusion So far, so good.  I haven’t had the one “wow” moment yet, but I have found myself  on more than one occasion already thinking that I need to take my contacts out to go to bed and then I smile to myself when I realise that I don’t have to!  I can’t wait for this haze to lift and to go scuba diving without worrying that my lenses will fall out. All in all, worth it!  Go visit my friends down at the London Vision Clinic and say that I sent you…

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